2011 Proposed Physician Fee Schedule Rule Contains Proposed Pay Cuts for Outpatient Therapy Services

June 28, 2010 · Posted in Industry News, Reimbursement · Comment 

As reported by APTA.org, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued the proposed physician fee schedule rule that would implement key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and update payment rates under the physician fee schedule for services furnished on or after January 1, 2011 (CY 2011).

If this rule becomes effective, physicians, physical therapists and other health care professionals would receive a 6.1% cut to their Medicare payments starting January 1, 2011 in addition to the 21.3% reduction that has been delayed several times already this year due to the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. This reduction was replaced with a 2.2% update until November 30, 2010, when the President signed the “Preservation of Access to Care for Medicare Beneficiaries and Pension Relief Act of 2010″ on Friday, June 25.

In addition to the projected reductions due to the SGR, CMS also proposes a multiple procedure payment reduction policy (MPPR) that would result in significant reductions in payment for outpatient therapy services. Specifically, CMS proposes to make full payment for the therapy service or unit with the highest practice expense value and payment of 50 percent of the practice expense component for the second and subsequent procedures or units of the service furnished during the same day for the same patient. The work and malpractice components of the therapy service payment would not be reduced. The proposed multiple procedure payment reduction policy would apply to both the services paid under the physician fee schedule (PFS) that are furnished in the office setting and those services paid at the PFS rates that are furnished by outpatient hospitals, home health agencies (Part B), skilled nursing facilities (Part B), comprehensive rehabilitation facilities, and other entities that are paid by Medicare for outpatient therapy services. It is estimated that if the multiple procedure payment reduction policy were implemented, payment for outpatient therapy services would be reduced by approximately 13% in addition to the projected SGR payment cut for CY 2011.

The APTA believes that CMS’s proposal to apply the multiple procedure payment reduction to outpatient therapy services is based on flawed presumptions and has no justification. The APTA states that it will aggressively work to stop implementation of the proposed MPPR policy and the SGR payment reductions.